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Why Vt. dairy farmers struggle despite decent milk prices - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why Vt. dairy farmers struggle despite decent milk prices

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -

The room is packed; the future of dairy is front and center. At the 81st Vermont Farm Show, it was tough talk about the past and future with some of the state's biggest farmers. The cost of doing business is making it difficult to make ends meet.

"In essence, the biggest problem is fuel, feed, fertilizer-- their input costs, the commodities, they've doubled or tripled when their income has grown to subsidized costs," said Jim Bushey of Bordeau Brothers.

During the past year, the price of milk paid to farmers has been good, but it's been offset by big expenses.

"Farmers are coming off what's looking like a good price for their milk, but the costs of producing, particularly feed costs, have been so high at the end of the day most farmers have lost money last year and that's a big problem," said Bob Wellington, a senior vice president at AgriMark.

It's a problem because there is not enough cash to pay the bills.

"Those people who buy feed have tremendous grain bills. Corn and soybean prices are very high. Bills can be thousands upon thousands of dollars," Wellington said.

"Hopefully we can see enough increase in products like milk so farmers can continue to make money and stay solvent," Bushey said.

Also adding to the frustration, Congress has not passed a farm bill. It's a five-year plan that allows farmers to plan and also navigate the wild roller-coaster ride of prices.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Should Vermonters be worried about the farming industry?

Bob Wellington: I think they should because farming is the heart and soul of Vermont and dairy is the soul of farming in the state.

It's a state where dairy farmers hope they can stay on the land at a time when the public wants more milk, butter and cheese.

Officials say there's growing demand for Vermont dairy products and farmers will need to produce double the current amount to keep up with that demand.

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